Skip to main content

Full text of "History And Human Relation"

See other formats



If 1 may be allowed to give what at least is not an
unconsidered opinion, I must say that I do not personally
believe that there is a government in Europe which
wants the public to know all the truth.    If there is one
which does have the desire, it has an easy way of proving
its good intentions, for it has only to open its archives
to the free play of scholarship—to friends, enemies,
neutrals, devil's advocates and independent observers,
so that everything may be put into the crucible and we
may know the worst that the eagle eye of a hostile critic
may pounce upon, the clash of controversy ultimately
producing a more highly-tested form of truth.    There
are two maxims for historians which so harmonise with
what I know of history that I would like to claim them
as my own, though they really belong to nineteenth-
century historiography:  first, that governments try to
press upon the historian the key to all the drawers but
one, and are very anxious to spread the belief that this
single one contains no secret of importance;  secondly,
that if the historian can only find out the thing which
government does not want him to know, he will lay his
hand upon something that is likely to be significant.

My own teacher and predecessor, Professor Temperley,
stood at what I should call an intermediate stage in the
development of modern " official history " ; for, along
with Dr. Gooch, he held what now seems to me a
peculiarly independent position as editor of the British